3 British Surrogates On Why They Carry Other Women's Babies

Photo: Ashley Armitage
Have you ever considered carrying someone else’s baby? If the answer is yes, you could potentially become one of a growing number of women offering their wombs to couples who are unable to have children. The Ministry of Justice Family Court's latest figures show that the number of children born by surrogate has surged in the last few years, from 117 in 2011 to 331 in 2015 – it's estimated that the number for last year will be close to 400.
Katherine Dobb, Project and Communications Manager at Surrogacy UK, says: “It’s a wonderful way of creating family and a very positive experience for everyone concerned when done in the right way with a lot of thought by all parties. Surrogates enjoy helping others and feel very proud that they’ve helped create a family which wouldn’t otherwise exist.”
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We spoke to three surrogates to find out what it’s really like to carry someone else’s baby for the first time.
Annie, 39
Annie became Surrogacy UK’s first childless surrogate in 2013.
“It sounds awful but my surrogacy journey started as a bit of a joke. I was at work and we were talking about babies. I said: ‘I’d love to experience pregnancy, I just don’t want the end result; I’d make the ideal surrogate’. That conversation sowed the seed, so that weekend I decided to do some research and get more information.
Once I signed up with Surrogacy UK and chose my intended parents, I decided I wanted to be a host surrogate, meaning the babies aren’t genetically mine, so it was all done through a clinic. Initially I had a scan and an internal X-ray just to make sure everything was OK with me physically. Then we had an appointment with a consultant and it was just a case of waiting for me to ovulate. Unfortunately we had a failed attempt so we waited another month and we were second-time lucky. It turns out I carry really well during pregnancy – I didn’t have a sniff of nausea and I just sailed right through it.
I had to be induced because I went over my due date and the labour was very long and slow-going. The midwives knew about our situation so I was able to have three birthing partners (my partner and both intended parents) instead of the usual maximum of two. When the baby was born she went straight to her mum. Shortly afterwards I was wheeled into the recovery room and we all had a bit of team time together."
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Katie, 34
Katie had her first surrogate baby earlier this year after her first attempt ended in miscarriage.
“For the very first couple I helped, when I had the miscarriage, I was a host surrogate so they used their own embryo. When I met my most recent couple, who are gay, they had four frozen embryos so I asked if they wanted to do straight surrogacy where I’d use my eggs, but they’d become quite emotionally attached to the ones they had. We did two cycles of IVF, neither of which worked, so we switched to straight surrogacy and after one round of insemination it worked straightaway.
The pregnancy was hard work – oh my God it sucked! Everything hurt, I had sickness for about seven weeks in the beginning, high blood pressure, swollen feet, pelvic pain, everything. But I miss it, I want to be pregnant again. My waters broke at exactly 39 weeks pregnant and I had her the next day.
I didn’t feel attached to her because my bond was with the parents. She was created for and carried for them. She was never mine, even though we used my eggs; they were for the parents. It’s not like you get pregnant and decide to give it to someone. You get pregnant for someone else so you always know the baby’s not yours. Throughout the pregnancy I loved carrying her and feeling her move inside me, but I was more excited to see how much her dads loved it.
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I’ve seen her loads since she was born and I love her to bits but not in the way that I love my own son. I did think that when she was born and I held her that an instinct might take over which I’d have no control of, but that just didn’t happen.”
Lauren, 26
Lauren was working as a nanny when she first looked into surrogacy after the family she was nannying for suffered a miscarriage.
“You grow up thinking that if you want a baby you just have sex and that’s it. But coming into surrogacy you realise that’s actually not the case for a lot of people. I thought that maybe I could help someone, I just didn’t know how to go about it or whether it was even legal in this country. I literally just googled it and Surrogacy UK came up. Back then you had to be 23 to join and I was only 22, so I waited until I was old enough and then filled out the application form.
They have an online network and I knew I’d have to spend at least three months getting to know my intended parents as a rule. I read a few profiles and came across a gay couple who sounded like people I’d get on with and the rest was history. We texted each other, spoke on the phone and went out to dinner, Thorpe Park and The Shard. Once we’d decided to go ahead with me being a host surrogate we just continued our friendship. They came to all the scans, they paid expenses on time so I was never out of pocket and they were always very supportive.
At the birth, when they cut the cord she went to have skin-to-skin contact with one of her dads. I had a few cuddles and then they went into their own room to get some sleep and try and bond with her. It was important for me not to be around her too much because I wanted them to get to know her and for her to learn that I wasn't going to be there. I didn't want her to think ‘mum’ and it was amazing to see them both become dads.”
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